Saturday, April 23, 2011

Green Room Number Two (for the chick)

Now, the second room, I sort of broke my "simple" rules, like the ones I maintained in the dude's room.  This, after all, is a girl's room with cute girly things.  

My youngest daughter is from China.  She's a stinker.  Very feisty.  Very independent.  Loves to play cook and play mommy.  Loves to push everyone's buttons a little too much.  Enjoys crafts.  Adores the new puppy.  Wants Mommy to have a baby so she can help feed and take care of it.  (Uh.. sorry... draw the line here... dear daughter, you ARE our baby.)  Bright little girl.  Absolutely beautiful.  Caring heart.

When we knew we were going to adopt her, we collected fabric pieces from lots of family members and friends to make a "100 Good Wishes Quilt" for her.  It's a Chinese tradition.  The previous link takes you to our adoption blog from 2007/2008 and explains the quilt.  We collected over 100 pieces, and then I began to panic.  I don't know how to quilt!  It was going to cost us hundreds and hundreds of dollars to hire someone to do it for us (and in the midst of a five-figure adoption cost, even a few hundred would've been impossible).  But a friend's mom volunteered out of the blue for her quilting bee to do it for us.  And thus, we ended up with a GORGEOUS quilt.

I KNEW this quilt was going on the wall... whether she liked it or not.  The quilt is pink... lots and lots of pink.

Her previous comforter was pink and green.  Her rug was pink and green.  Her baskets were pink and green.  Her wall hangings were pink and green.

So, when I asked her what color she wanted on the walls, she said, "RED!"  ... "and purple and green".

My response?  "Uh... um.... nope, I don't think so."  Darn... never ask the child when you KNOW what you want.

We had a quick little discussion that red wasn't going to work.  Too much for a little girls' room.  Fortunately she wasn't stuck on the red thing, and green worked too.  She still claims to not be a pink fanatic, but that's just too bad.  When your special adoption quilt is pink, you will have pink.  LOL

So, I found a lovely shade in the Behr Ultra line called "Cilantro Cream".  It's gorgeous... a tad celery like.  We had it color matched to Behr's regular paint.  

Here's her final room:

I LOVE this room!  The color is just beautiful.  So "girly" for a green.  I love that we were able to keep a few "Chinese" elements too... her quilt, of course.... the pink butterfly hanging came from A Gift From China (love that store in Guangzhou)... the panda print (came from a Guangzhou store, too).

The chick is *okay* with it too... In Mommy's world, I would have removed all toys, limited books to just a few and left only a few pencils and a frame on the desk.  However, how does that possibly work for a six-year-old girl?   Fortunately Mommy let her keep the all-important kitchen set, dolls, craft kits, and "junk" in there.  That made all the difference in the world.  I probably could've painted it orange with black and brown polka-dots and purple stripes with camouflage on the ceiling and she would've been okay with it... as long as the toys remained.

Green Room Number One (for the dude)

So, I managed to squeak in two days of painting at the beginning of this Spring Break.  Whew!  That was my entire "to do" list, and I finished... I wasn't pushing myself too hard, I know.  But with visitors for four days, and two days of funeral events, I'm happy to have at least done two major things.


My youngest son loves Star Wars... and Legos... and Batman... and HotWheels... and Pokemon... and Bakugan... and Mario... and whatever his newest/closest friend is into that day.  But, alas, Star Wars seems to be the longest lasting phase, so we went with that.

And anyone that knows him, KNOWS that the absolute favorite color is GREEN.  If I would have painted all his furniture green and bought a new comforter and shades that were green, he would've been in complete heaven.

He wanted the same green as our old house's office.  I liked it, too, but it seemed a bit too dark olive-y for a little boys bedroom, so we stepped it down a little on the color strip to be a tad less dark.  Instead of Behr "Promenade", we went with "Restful"... seemed appropriate for a bedroom, eh?

"Goes there, who does?"

Love the looks of these Roman shades, but they are a pain... who puts the pull-cord BEHIND the shade?  Seriously?? And what's with the little plastic rings that hold the pull-cord string?  The strings always pop out.  Ugh.  But, still... I love the look.  I just have to be the one to open and close the blind.  I got this idea for navy shades from a Pottery Barn catalog... loved the classic simple look, especially since our windows are framed in trimwork.

The room is not 100% complete... it's a work in progress.  This desk came from my husband's grandmother... the one whose funeral we just attended.  It's nothing grand, but it works beautifully for a little kid.  I would like to spruce it up a little.  Still trying to decide.  The chair is a solid wood Restore find.  It's a great size for my son, but needs a little work... maybe some paint.  Same with that Ikea desk to the left.  It is a mangled glued-up, scratched-up mess from my daughter's craft projects, but works great for a Lego table.  I'm thinking of ways to dress it up, too.  

I have a Star Wars poster to frame and want to possibly throw a quote on the wall.  Maybe add another full-size sticker, too?

I feel like I should do so much more in here... it just doesn't quite compete with the rooms I've done in the past for my kids.  This is no award-winning decorated room, by any means.  It does need a little more, but I am stopping before going crazy.  I've done the cutesy rooms with multiple colors and lots of wall-hangings.  Mobiles from the ceiling, glowing stars on the ceiling, hanging planets, hanging artwork, tons of stuffed animals, lots of shelves, canopies, handmade curtains, fancy rugs, etc.

Here's what I'm learning though.

It's my almost-seven-years-old SON'S room.  He doesn't care if I don't have a lot of cute patterns in there.  He doesn't care that Mommy didn't hand-make gorgeous curtains.  He doesn't care that I didn't paint a huge mural on the wall.  

He wants only a few things in his room... 
Green walls.
A bed (need not be made... blankets and top sheet are optional since they are always kicked to the bottom anyway)
A closet to throw his clothes and shoes inside (hamper optional).
Hotwheels cars.
A toybox (Rubbermaid is fine) full of Batman and Bakugan figures.
A table for Legos.
Lots of floor/bed space to play.

Um... that's pretty much it.

The desk with school supplies and paper and sight word cards inside?... yeah, Mom, you're really pushing it there.

Oh... and lots of Star Wars wall stickers.  

I was hesitant to buy more than just Yoda in the life-size form, but I think I may just cave and put Anakin over the bed.  We'll see.  Yoda is pretty awesome, after all... 
a larger Anakin sticker must rock!

He's a boy.  He's simple.  He doesn't care about design.  And let's face it... his room never, ever, ever looks this clutter-free.  Ever.  Might as well keep the walls simple before the entire room becomes a chaotic mess.

A boy, he is.

Simple, we will do.

Spring Break? Break? Really?

Oh, what a week.  I haven't been on here much, though my intents were to blog like crazy!  We've been on Spring Break, but there's no vacation here.  Mike's grandmother died last week so we had a few funeral-related days this week.  I did manage to paint two bedrooms on the days when we were here... I'll blog about them later.  But the real annoyance is that despite no demanding 6am wake-up schedule for work and/or school, I am still exhausted and sleeping very little.

Anyone who has owned a puppy and has crate-trained him/her, perhaps you can relate...

I AM EXHAUSTED!!!!!  (Here's the little alarm clock that rings way too often....Lucy.)

It's worse than a newborn baby, I swear.  Worse.  With a newborn baby, when he/she cried in the middle of the night, I would zombie-like-walk into the nursery, gently pick up the baby, lay back in the chair and nurse (and fall back asleep) all in the comfort of the warm indoors... every 3-4 hours for awhile there.   Notice... I'd just SLEEP, cuddling a sweet little baby in a comfy chair, smelling the baby shampoo-ed head and stroking the tiny wisp of hair on his/her head.  Ah.... I'd be tired, but it would be heaven.  
(I sort of miss those days....)

With a puppy, I walk/stumble/nearly-fall down the stairs, while trying to wrap a robe or jacket around me and shuffling in my lovely Mammoth Crocs... all while hearing the piercing howl of the puppy.  I then open the crate to a super excited (excited to the point of peeing all over sometimes) puppy, who jumps all over me (sometimes wet from an accident in the crate...ew!), who I then have to calm enough to stick a leash on her, who I then need to escort outside...ugh!

Did I tell you where we live?  We live in the middle of nowhere.  It's a community of about forty 3-5 acre homesites, so we are not alone here... but it's surrounded by lots of woods and hills/mountains and dirt roads.  Yes, I LOVE this place.  LOVE LOVE LOVE it... except in the dead of night.

So, I take this puppy outside, where there is one single porch light and one slightly glowing lamppost in the middle of nowhere.  We have woods in front of our house and woods behind.  So, easily-freaked-out me always glances all around (as best I can) to make sure nothing like a fox, deer, coyote, poisonous snake, skunk, or bear is anywhere nearby.  No mass murderers or burglars want to bother escaping down a dirt road... but wildlife is plentiful.  

Ok... I freak out easily... the Blair Witch Project messed me up for life.  I've only ever seen a fox and deer on my property... none of the others, ....though I hear stories....

Then I have to persuade the puppy to pee.  Of course, she's too excited to concentrate on that... she sniffs around, digs in the mulch, comes back often to jump all over me, chews on sticks, finds weird things to smell and investigate, stops to listen to the spring peepers or distant cows or dogs... but suddenly that bladder-urgency that she deemed necessary to howl for just minutes ago, now is pushed to the back of her mind. 

During this time, I feel like an idiot... like Stacy and Clinton are going to pop out from behind the bush to tackle me.  See, I don't sleep in cute adorable little matching pajamas or beautiful nightgowns.  I demand ultimate comfort at night.   Old Navy long sleeve tees and athletic-style cotton capris... and I'm happy if the colors don't clash (isn't my husband LUCKY?).  Add to that no bra (of course), a quickly thrown on big white puffy robe or jersey jacket (whatever is closest), my little white ankle socks, and a pair of brown fleece-lined Crocs.  And of course, no makeup and matted, flat hair in my face.

OH.  EM.  GEE.  

I am that hideous mom my kids would be horrified if their friends saw... and I'm outside.  At this moment, I thank the Lord that there are no street lights, and that we sit behind trees just in case a car decides to drive by.

Eventually she pees.

Then I scoot her inside, (quietly praying that the crate towel is not soiled or soaked... 'cuz that means 20 minutes of cleaning up), lock her up in the crate, turn out the lights and practically run back to the comfort of my bed where I might be able to squeeze in another 1.5 hours before the next howling.

Fortunately my husband trades pee-duty with me.  
Unfortunately he sleeps through the howling every time.  
So, I wake up every hour and a half, even if it's not my turn.  (But I do wake him up on his turn!)

We see our own vet for the first time next Friday.  I plan to ask a whole lotta questions... like, just WHEN can I expect that puppy to hold her pee just a little longer than 90 minutes.  AND... explain to me how a puppy can pee every 90 minutes all night long, when she hasn't had any water since 8pm the evening before.  Where does it COME from???

I want to quickly thank my friend Alissa for watching this little bundle of joy/pee/poop for us while we were attending a day full of distant funeral events.  If you want to see Lucy from a photographer's eye... here's a quick look at Alissa's Amaranthine Images blog.  

So... I apologize that I have digressed from my typical decorating/crafting/home-related blog to explain why I'm so doggone tired these days (ha... a pun).  

Some people, like my parents and my in-laws (who are upstairs right now and will experience the howling for the first time tonight!) think we are crazy... but seriously, how can you resist a face like this???  (Hers, not mine.)

Sorry to blog about pee and exhaustion... but just be happy I didn't go into details about how her change in puppy food caused two straight days of diarrhea.  

(I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dining Room Seat Assignments

Perhaps many of you don't have this problem... but we have for quite awhile.  Not everyone is ever happy with where they sit at dinner.  There's always a favorite seat or favorite seat-neighbor.  Especially at our last house, where the breakfast room (our only table) was very cramped and difficult to sit at.

Now we have room in our dining room, where we eat.  But we still allow for changes monthly.

Yes, we have a breakfast room, too... but we are totally digging the emptiness in that space.  Ahhh... makes the downstairs so much more open.  We're in no hurry to get a table in there....

So, in order to alleviate the fighting that always endured with dinner time, we came up with assigned seating... that changes monthly.

First, I needed some way to establish seating... a nametag for the chairs.  Rather than make anything permanent, and to allow for chairs to be exchanged (with four kids and two dogs, you never know when one chair may break or need to be well-cleaned one day).

I made these monogram tags to go with my decor (in the last house).  We had Tuscan colors in the dining room.
I used precut wooden letters and painted them a soft tan color.  

I drilled a hole in each letter. 

I then glued black felt to the back and cut it out to give a bit of an outline to the letter, and poked a hole in the black felt.
Then I strung some ribbon and tied them on!
If I were to redo them at this home, I may use a nice black/white print paper decoupaged onto the letter front and simply painted-black in the back.  Then I'd string it up with a cool big fluffy ribbon.

Our rules for seat-picking are fairly simple and not terribly organized.

1.  We choose new seats at the first day of the month that we eat dinner at the table.  (That may be later than the first, depending on schedules or vacations or "eating out" days.)

2.  If the month happens to have a birthday in it, the "birthday boy/girl" gets to choose first.  With six of us in five months (we let the second birthday in January choose in February), that's half the year!

3.  Mommy and Daddy get to sit next to each other and we choose seats before the rest fill in.  It changes... sometimes side by side or corner by corner, but it's our rule to ensure that we get to include a little adult conversation into our dinner time, too!  I can't imagine being able to talk to my husband if we sat at opposite ends across the long table.  How do people do that?  Even when we host others, we rarely sit at those spots.

4.  The rest of the kids get to choose based on lottery, who showed up first, who can guess a number closest to a chosen number, etc.  We change it up to make things interesting, but we don't make any specific efforts to make things "even".  With four kids, things are never even, but eventually everything works out just fine.... plus then we aren't worrying about seating if the scheduled #2 person doesn't show up quickly when we call them to dinner.  First come, usually first served.

It's not a perfect solution.  Sometimes we forget to switch.  Sometimes two kids end up next to each other than cause problems throughout dinner.  Sometimes the little tags fall off and end up chewed by a puppy.  :)

But it works for us!
Now... if only I could come up with that magical CHEAP way of decorating that wall that will wow everyone.  Ideas?  It's about 14' long.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

More Kitchen Organizing... and getting a little greener as I go....

Recently I was introduced to Shaklee products from a friend (we were watching our houses being built at the same time down the street from one another and happened to meet one day at church when I was watching her daughter at Sunday School!)  In case you are not familiar with Shaklee, their products are healthier and safer than most you'll find in the local grocery store.  And reasonably priced, too.

The cool thing is that they are convenient!!  (And I'm all about convenience!!)

You can purchase the Basic H liquid and then make various solutions for an All-Purpose Cleaner, a Window Cleaner, and a DeGreaser.  I purchased the set of bottles to make up the solutions easily.

These products are the Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener... I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pumps!  Half-a-pump to One-full-pump per load.  Now the older kids can EASILY do their own laundry.  Everyone can pump these bottles.  They are easy on the environment and have a fresh scent I like.  (And I even got an additional one in Unscented for my sensitive-skin child.)  And look... they take up almost no space... easy on my tight laundry room spacing.

Despite selling Thirty-One products myself, it hadn't dawned on me till I saw Toni's post at A Bowl Full of Lemons that the Organizing Utility Tote was PERFECT for the products.  

So, I grabbed one of the totes I just bought and put it to use.  (As you can see, I'm not a complete Shaklee convert... still have some big brands in there, too... but I'm slowly moving over.)

On the side pockets, I keep the three bottles, the Scour-off paste, and a cloth.  Inside, I keep the extras like paper towels (okay... not totally green yet) and the bottle of Basic H.

Now the tote can go around with me as I clean the house.

And doesn't it look adorable in the Pin Dots print?  

If you happened to notice that the top photo was in a plaid print (St. Andrews Tartan), I'm afraid I had to pull that one off of cleaner-duty. 

It just so happens to perfectly match the Picnic Tote and Around Town Blanket I have.  

So, they are currently all grouped together for those Saturday soccer games.
Picnic Thermal Tote: holds snacks and drinks for when we're "snack friend"... keeps everything cool throughout the entire game
Organizing Tote:  holds snacks for the other five people in the family, water bottles, books, camera for sitting on the sidelines
About Town Blanket:  just because Mommy can be a serious wimp when the wind blows even a little... quite a nice little wind-breaker!  :)

All items can be found at 

Mars and Hershey together... yum!

Nope.... I'm not referring to the two towns in Pennsylvania, either.  

I used to make "Poor Man's Turtles" often.  They were made of small pretzels, Rolos and a pecan half.  Yum-O!

Today, I decided to change it up a bit.  I know others have made this... but here's a quick little picture tutorial.  No "recipe" needed.
You need:
Small pretzels, Hershey's Caramel Kisses (or Rolos), and M&Ms.

Spray a cookie sheet with butter-flavor spray (to prevent much sticking if the chocolate/caramel melts onto it)

Now, for the longest part... unwrap all those daggone candies.  Kisses are easier than Rolos, IMHO.

Or, convince a sweets-fanatic six-year-old to come along to help.

Don't worry if you don't pay her.... she'll get rewarded for her good deeds.

Put one kiss per pretzel.  (What cute shoes!)

Ah... better... no feet.

Stick them in a preheated oven.

170 degrees for 5 minutes.

At four minutes, they were pretty shiny (but if you see the kiss second from the front on the left, you can see I attempted to squish it... it was still stubborn.)

Ah... success at five minutes!  (If you use Rolos, you may need a different temperature and time)

So, I squished M&Ms on half and pecan halves on half (I still am a pecan lover, even if the kids would prefer the M&Ms).

Close-up... yep, it's messy!

Still too squishy to eat or store, so I put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Treasure Hunting Again

Oh crud... I did it again.

I went to the grocery store for a "quick trip".  I got the shopping done and was heading back home, thinking... "Ah... so nice to be alone.  No kids in the car, and another hour and a half till the first kid comes home."  

Now granted, I love being HOME alone, too... but I can feel that feeling after 9:30 at night when all four kids are asleep.  I can't shop at super-dee-duper cute stores at 9:30 at night!  Am I right?

So, as I drove past one of my favorite stores in town... you know, the one with the "moving sale" in progress... I just had to peek in to see if the sale prices went down any more.  

Sure enough...
they had!!

75% off almost everything.  ('cept Yankee Candles and other namebrand items... but that was okay... I wasn't looking for Vera Bradley, Christopher Radko or Yankee Candles today... even at 75% off, they wouldn't prove to be true *bargains*.  Am I right?)

The last time I "popped in", I chose not to grab a cart.  Big mistake.  A third-of-the-way through the store, and my arms were loaded.  So THIS time, I grabbed a cart!

Here are some of the treasures I came across.....

What a cute little glass jar.  Perfect season, too.... how on earth was this not sold yet?

It was Department 56, too! See?  (Whoops... forgot to turn it!)

I paid... $7.  It's about 14" tall... no small thing, either!  The tag said it was a "jelly bean" jar.  Now, we like jelly beans, but in this house, the most requested Easter candy is... 
Seven bucks.  Seriously?  (The M&Ms inside cost more than that... seriously!)

Last time I was there, I almost snagged this cutie, but since it was Christmasy, I bypassed it till the price went down.  Well, it did... $3.75.  

And the cool thing... on the reverse, there is no Christmas design... so I can use it year-round!

I never thought of myself as a tchotchke sort of person, but a few little seasonal items tucked in here and there can be cute!  I found this little silver guy for $3

I gave him a cute hiding place by the window.  (Look... here's a plant I haven't killed yet!)

 Well, since the prices went down, I grabbed a few Christmas items.  These are metal snowflakes, about 7" tall... great for a 9' Christmas tree.  Oh, and they were 75 cents each.

I know a lot of bloggers are on a bird-kick these days.  I'm not BIG on birds, but a cute little birdie here and there isn't bad.  These little resin guys (about 4" tall) were $1.50 each.

Every year, we get our kids a new ornament.  Usually I aim to get something personalized or something unique to their tastes (i.e. Soccer ball for the soccer players, a kid with braces for my son who got braces that year, a Chinese ornament for the year we adopted our youngest, etc.)  But these little guys were so doggone cute at $3.50 each, I had to grab them.  Ha!  Ornaments done for 2011!  YES!!  Oh, maybe I'll iron on a little letter-applique or something to make them "personalized".  

 For the fall season, I couldn't bypass these little squirrels.  Too cute on a mantle or Thanksgiving centerpiece, right?  $3 each (and the size is about 7" tall).

Now this one, I was hesitant.  I saw it two weeks ago and passed it up.  I had seen someone spraypaint a cross off-white before (man... canNOT remember where I saw that...).  However, I was hesitant to get this with the words on it.  Then after seeing the $2.50 price-tag, I realized... ha!  It includes my daughter's name, and this song was playing when we made a video montage of her adoption trip.  So... the song is fitting to us.  This is big and only $2.50... c'mon!  I had to buy it now.

These little milk bottles were only $2 each.  I got two for Mother's Day gifts for our moms.  Now, what to put in them?  Any ideas?  Maybe if I'm energetic enough, I'll drag out the Cricut and add a few names and words to the bottle before putting something in there.  Hmmmm.....

I was a little worried to post this since it's a potential gift... BUT, I have come to the conclusion that my dear mother ...who keeps up on Facebook statuses several times a day, emails me a dozen times a day, calls nearly daily, knows my schedule almost by heart, spoils my kids rotten and plays Webkinz for them to keep their characters alive and well... all from 5 hours away... just NEVER reads my blog.  I'll have local friends bring up blog topics to me all the time, but when I mention something to my mom about something I wrote, she "hasn't read it yet".

So, Mom, if you are reading this... congratulations... you now know a little secret about your gift... and thank you for reading my blog.  Yay!

But, I'm still convinced she won't read this.  Ha!  (Shhh.... don't tell her about my deal.)

 Halloween is a holiday that we're never crazy about decorating for.  It just has never been our thing.  I'll set out carved pumpkins and ceramic pumpkin jars and burn pumpkin candles and buy cute costumes for the kids, 
...but hanging scary witches and ghosts and putting creepy bloody zombies in my yard never gave us a thrill.  I'll let the neighbors go hog wild setting up scary haunted houses and fake cemetaries and blast smoke across their yards on Trick-or-Treat night (because I do like seeing that!)  I particularly love the ones that go crazy with Halloween and serve "special drinks" to the adults that go alone with the kiddos.  (oh... but I digress, huh....)

However, if it can be creepy in a natural way... like ravens and black cats and bats.... now, THAT I like. I just don't own very much.  I found this little guy today for $3.  So, he came home for me... ready to sit on my shelf come October.

Well, that's it for my shopping trip today.  It's Spring Break beginning at 4:15 today when the last child trickles in off the school bus.  So, chances are pretty good that I won't be out treasure hunting till the next school day in 10 days.  :-)

If you're heading to Spring Break, too.... ENJOY!  Hopefully you'll have a slightly better break than us.  No vacations, no special day-trips (other than a funeral)... but that's what happens when you buy a new house, eh?